Speakers Hail Peacebuilding Commission as ‘Lynchpin’ of Diverse Efforts Supporting Post-Conflict Stability, as General Assembly Adopts Decision on Ocean Protection

The Peacebuilding Commission was rapidly becoming a lynchpin body that brought together the diverse activities of the United Nations in support of peace, speakers in the General Assembly stressed today, as they also adopted a draft decision accrediting intergovernmental groups to a conference on ocean conservation.

During their annual debate, speakers in the Assembly explored how peacebuilding was evolving in the wake of the twin sustaining peace resolutions adopted by the 193-member body and the Security Council in 2016. Many said the Commission's mandate � energized by Assembly resolution 70/262 and the identical Security Council resolution 2282 (2016) � rendered it well-placed to advance the nascent concept of sustaining peace advocated by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Among the changes introduced by those resolutions was a stronger focus on the Commission's role as a bridge among the organs and entities of the United Nations. They also had mandated that the Commission pursue an integrated, strategic and coherent approach to peacebuilding.

In opening remarks, Assembly Vice-President Ruben Ignacio Zamora Rivas (El Salvador) said the Commission was now empowered to be more effective, flexible and innovative. Noting that the 2016 resolutions had called for the dissolution of silos in the United Nations work, he expressed support for its improved work methods and the Secretary-General's commitment to providing catalytic support to sustaining peace.

Cho Tae-Yul (Republic of Korea), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, agreed that the parallel resolutions offered a timely opportunity to improve the body's advisory role, and, ultimately, support to countries. Its priorities would include strengthening partnerships with regional and subregional organizations; ensuring more predictable funding; increasing women's participation in efforts to build and sustain peace; and improving transparency and efficiency.

In the ensuing debate, delegates shared their countries' experiences with peacebuilding both abroad and at home. Many spotlighted the Commission's support to the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), assistance to Sierra Leone in carrying out its 2012 elections, and a 19 April meeting to discuss peacebuilding in the Gambia as examples of success. Others pointed to cooperation between the Peacebuilding Fund and the World Bank in both Yemen and the Central African Republic as evidence of its potential to work with external partners.

Several also described their work as Chairs or members of the Commission's country-specific configurations, with Ireland's delegate noting that, through its time on the Liberia configuration, his country had seen how Commission support could help a country drive its own peacebuilding process.

Sharing first-hand experience with peacebuilding, Nepal's delegate stressed that sustained peace must engage all stakeholders, including the most marginalized. Nepal now enjoyed an inclusive and rights-based Constitution, with democratic elections planned for the first time in 20 years in May, he said, adding that United Nations support to his country had come a long way.

Brazil's representative said the Peacebuilding Commission could transcend divisions among the Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. Marking an evolution in relation to the original paradigm of peacebuilding, the concept of sustaining peace can contribute to enhancing our capacity to address what the Secretary-General identified as one of the most serious shortcomings of the international community: its inability to prevent crisis, he stressed.

Amid such praise, a number of speakers also expressed concern that respect for national ownership, regional leadership and the consent of host States remained limited, with some warning that the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence must be strictly observed. We must let the peoples of the world, in Africa and elsewhere, decide on their own destiny, stressed Burundi's representative, recalling that his country had been on the Commission's agenda since 2006. While welcoming a shift in focus from Burundi's political debate to the economic impacts of its recent crises, he cited room for improvement in the regional and subregional dimensions of peacebuilding, stressing that the principle of national ownership was not always respected.

Similarly, the Russian Federation's representative said the role of the United Nations must be to support host countries with their consent. Assistance should never be imposed or allowed to morph into interference in domestic affairs. Pointing to the Peacebuilding Fund's work in Kyrgyzstan as an example of its cooperation with the Commission, underpinned by consent, he said countries should be consulted throughout the process, but in particular when peace operations were transitioning or being drawn down.

Also speaking today were representatives of Sri Lanka, Egypt, Morocco, Guatemala, India, Argentina, Netherlands, Japan, China, Pakistan, Portugal, Colombia, United States, Estonia, Australia, Norway, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Germany, Indonesia, Senegal, Sweden, Uruguay, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Turkey, as well as of the European Union.

The former Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission delivered opening remarks.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, 21 April, for an interactive dialogue on Harmony with Nature to commemorate International Mother Earth Day.

Introductory Remarks

RUBA�N IGNACIO ZAMORA RIVAS (El Salvador) Vice-President of the General Assembly, delivered a statement on behalf of Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji), recalling that a year ago, the Assembly and the Security Council had adopted ground-breaking parallel resolutions on the Review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture. Noting that those texts amounted to a comprehensive statement on the Organization's role in peacebuilding and prevention � connecting its efforts for peace and security, sustainable development and human rights � he said they had also called for the dissolution of silos and advancement of a strongly integrated approach. On 24 January 2017, the Assembly had held a high-level dialogue on Building Sustainable Peace for All, focusing on the synergies between sustainable development and sustaining peace.

Noting that those twin resolutions had also recognized the important role of the Peacebuilding Commission in serving as a bridge among the principal organs and entities of the United Nations, and as a platform to convene all relevant actors, he said the Commission was now empowered to be more effective, flexible and innovative. Expressing support for its improved work methods, he also welcomed the Secretary-General's commitment to providing catalytic, rapid-response and flexible support to sustaining peace. He recalled that, in 2016, the Peacebuilding Fund had approved $70.9 million to 17 countries integrating United Nations strategies in support of peacebuilding, exceeding the Organization-wide commitment to allocate at least 15 per cent of resources to women's empowerment by devoting 20 per cent to such efforts.

MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya), former Chair of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, presented that body's annual report on its tenth session (document A/71/768-S/2017/76) in 2016, a year marked by the adoption of resolutions on the review of the peacebuilding architecture which introduced the concept of sustaining peace. The session marked a very productive year as it built on the momentum generated by the twin resolutions to improve the Commission's relevance, effectiveness and flexibility. During the session, the Commission convened a range of country-specific, regional and thematic discussions beyond the six country configurations under its review. It considered peacebuilding opportunities and challenges in West Africa, including a visit by the Chair to explore those questions sub-regionally following the Ebola epidemic. It also engaged the African Union Peace and Security Council on issues of mutual interest and future cooperation.

In addition, he said the Commission had sought deeper regional and subregional partnerships, involving senior representatives of the Department of Political Affairs, Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as built stronger relationships with the African Union and international financial institutions. Further, the Commission built on synergies with the Peacebuilding Fund, convening a meeting with senior Government representatives of Kyrgyzstan. Stressing the importance of investing in peacebuilding and sustaining peace, he said that while a pledging conference had fallen short of its intended $300 million target, the event had sent an important political statement to Member States and the United Nations to seek solutions for long-term funding. Turning to working methods, he said the Commission had formulated reference documents to guide its work, and in September 2016, had become the first intergovernmental body to adopt a gender strategy. The annual report contained the Commission's priorities in 2017.

Speaking in his national capacity, he commended the Secretary-General for prioritizing conflict prevention and sustaining peace during his inaugural address to the Security Council, and applauded the General Assembly for holding a high-level plenary meeting on the topic Building Sustainable Peace for All: Synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace. That was an indication that the peacebuilding agenda was fully aligned with the current vision of the United Nations.

CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea), current Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, agreed that the Commission had made significant achievements since the Assembly's April 2016 discussion. Describing several initiatives � such as support provided to the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) in advancing the implementation of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS) and a meeting held just yesterday to discuss peacebuilding priorities in the Gambia � he said the parallel resolutions of the Assembly and the Council had provided a timely opportunity to re-energize the Commission, improve its advisory role and ultimately enhance its support to countries.

Outlining a number of priorities, he said the Commission must first enhance partnerships with international financial institutions, regional and subregional organizations, and bodies within the United Nations system. Recalling that the Security Council had recently asked the Commission to advise on several regional and country-specific issues, he said those were good opportunities for the Commission to prove it could provide comprehensive advice upon such request. As predictable financing was crucial, the Commission would focus its annual session in June on ways to ensure more predictable financing through stronger partnerships with international financial institutions and the private sector, among others.

Turning to the issue of gender, he said the Commission continued to build on the achievements of the past year, focusing on the need to increase women's participation in peacebuilding and sustaining peace. To that end, it had adopted a gender strategy in 2016 and appointed focal points on gender as well as youth, financing, institution-building and national ownership. Regarding transparency and efficiency, the Commission would seek more flexible work methods so it could respond rapidly and effectively to an increasing number of requests for advice and support.


JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union delegation, noting the identical resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council, said peacebuilding should no longer be seen as a post-conflict activity. Pointing out that 90 per cent of conflicts occurred in contexts that had experienced prior crises, she said sustaining peace was vital to preventing further outbreaks. While trillions of dollars had been spent destroying societies and economies, efforts to sustain peace instead reduced human and financial costs. Noting that a political culture of acting sooner in response to risk was critical for any chance of success, she said the bloc's new Global Strategy emphasized the importance of acting promptly, responding responsibly to crises, investing in stabilization and avoiding premature disengagement.

She welcomed the Commission's wider focus beyond countries on its agenda and its implementation of the Review's recommendations. She urged that the many remaining challenges be tackled, particularly regarding Burundi's downward spiral, which underscored the need for additional preventive measures, and the political stalemate in Guinea-Bissau. While acknowledging the Fund's significant results achieved, it remained a small-scale strategic fund that must be followed by longer-term commitments from other financing sources. The European Union was already engaged in joint funding through its Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace and was open to exploring further opportunities.

AMRITH ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said it was heartening that, despite concerns over funding, the Peacebuilding Fund had made remarkable achievements over the past year. The concept of sustaining peace should be at the core of United Nations conflict prevention efforts and the number one priority. As a country emerging from conflict, Sri Lanka had great awareness about the enormous suffering it brought, prompting the Government to commit to post-conflict peacebuilding. That experience was the underlying rationale for Sri Lanka's relentless support for the sustaining peace agenda and for joining the Group of Friends of Sustaining Peace. Sri Lanka had just pledged a contribution to the joint project of the Peacebuilding Support Office and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which aimed to better communicate the sustaining peace concept.

Noting that Sri Lanka used truth seeking, justice, reparation and measures for guaranteeing non-recurrence to address victims' grievances, he cited in that context the inclusive process to draw up a new Constitution guaranteeing the rights of all Sri Lankans, the national human rights action plan and passage of legislation to set up a Permanent Office for Missing Persons, to bring a sense of closure to those affected by the conflict. The report of the Consultation Task Force, which sought the views of the public on transitional justice mechanisms, was being studied to determine the appropriate mechanisms. Also, the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation was working on a national reconciliation policy, education sector reform to help children learn the importance of pluralism, and training inter-faith group leaders and clergy in peacebuilding to help them detect early warning signs and diffuse conflict. Since it became eligible for support from the Fund, Sri Lanka had received $12.3 million, of which $7 million had been earmarked for the Peacebuilding Priority Plan.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), describing last year's adoption of twin peacebuilding resolutions as a new start in strengthening the Organization's peace efforts, said the new approach had allowed the Peacebuilding Commission to address a number of emerging challenges. Calling for continued efforts to develop a common understanding of the term sustaining peace that addressed the concerns of all delegations, he said the United Nations should use all available tools to respond to crises, including the revision and improvement of peacekeeping missions to include more mediation and prevention efforts. It was also critical to develop the Secretariat's analytical capacity in order to better assess conflicts and their specific contexts. Such a flexible approach would strengthen the Commission's consultative role, he said, adding that the regional component should also be enhanced. The Commission's adoption of a gender strategy was another important step, as the role of women was a crucial one.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said 2016 had seen the emergence of a dynamic new vision for United Nations peace efforts, strengthening the balance among security, development and human rights. Noting that the new, holistic approach marked a departure from the previous linear approach to peace operations, he outlined recent work by the Commission's Central African Republic configuration, which he chaired. Calling for stronger cohesion between the various country-specific configurations and the Security Council, he went on to describe the remarkable work being undertaken by the Peacebuilding Fund, adding that it would benefit from stronger cooperation with the Commission. In the Central African Republic, for example, community violence had been reduced and the Fund was now supporting the reinstatement of basic services, reform of various sectors and efforts to combat impunity. The work of the Peacebuilding Commission should be shared with the public at large.

JORGE SKINNER-KLA�E (Guatemala) said sustaining peace was a cross-cutting vision and it must be a priority to tackle prevention. Strengthening the Commission and its associations with other parties was necessary, and as such, he expected recommendations that required a more detailed debate among Commission members. He welcomed that the Commission had considered ways to strengthen its consultative role with other United Nations bodies. Noting that the 2030 Agenda could contribute to sustaining peace, he also welcomed that the Fund had received considerable improvement and that 15 per cent of its resources had gone towards women's empowerment. In September 2016 the Fund had approved a project to strengthen Guatemala's capacity to fight impunity, focused on the Attorney General's ability to address cases related to both illegal groups and femicide. At the end of 2016, the Fund had approved another $9 million to support indigenous women who had survived gender violence. In coordination with the United Nations, the Government had strengthened the justice sector and improved its coordination with the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.

TANMAYA LAL (India), pointing out that there had been little political commitment to support peacebuilding efforts, also cited a lack of agreement on increasing the Commission's funding at a 1 per cent level. In the absence of funds, despite an understanding of the tasks at hand, there is little hope of it being achieved, he said, also noting the tendency to re-allocate the already grossly inadequate international development cooperation funds. The Fund's financial health was in question, with $71 million allocated for 17 countries in 2016, including the six where the Commission was active. Despite the passage of landmark resolutions by the Assembly and Council, the ministerial-level pledging conference had only elicited half of the $300 million goal. India, however, had made a financial contribution and continued to expand its development cooperation, including in Africa.

ALBERT SHINGIRO (Burundi), recalling that his country had been on the Commission's agenda since 2006, said the 2016 parallel resolutions had underscored the Commission's role in preventing the outbreak, escalation and recurrence of conflict, as well as addressing its root causes and helping countries step firmly onto the path of sustainable development. During its visits to his country, the Burundi configuration had brought together diverse stakeholders � including national actors, the East African Community, the African Union and neighbouring countries such as the United Republic of Tanzania � in order to encourage the peaceful resolution of conflict. Expressing satisfaction that the configuration had shifted its focus from Burundi's political debate to the economic consequences of its 2015 crisis, he encouraged the configuration to continue playing its important role as a bridge between Burundi and its partners, some of whom had recently decided to disengage from the peace process. While the Commission's experience in Burundi had highlighted the importance of the regional and subregional dimensions of peacebuilding, that principle was not always respected and there remained room for improvement. Similarly, he stressed that the critical concept of national ownership should also be more strictly respected. We must let the peoples of the world, in Africa and elsewhere, decide on their own destiny, with the international community's role limited to support, he concluded.

GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina), noting that her country had become a member of the Commission last January, welcomed the quest for its more flexible relations with Member States and regional organizations. The recent meetings on the Sahel region and Gambia were encouraging in that regard. Stressing that peacebuilding required appropriate, sustainable and predictable financing, she expressed support for the recommendation by the Group of Experts on the Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture to assign the Fund $100 million annually in the framework of the regular United Nations budget. As its current funding was insufficient to address the scale of peacebuilding needs, Argentina started to contribute to the Fund on a voluntary basis in 2016. As reflected in the annual report, the twin resolutions granted an important role to the Commission as a bridge for consultation and development of human rights and humanitarian assistance. The Commission could have an active role in the Security Council when the latter worked on crafting mandates and personnel levels for peacekeeping operations.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) said last year's adoption of twin resolutions had constituted a remarkable achievement in the area of peace and security. Peacebuilding and sustaining peace could play a key role in turning the Secretary-General's peace and prevention priorities into reality, he said, adding that they had helped the Peacebuilding Commission transcend divisions among the Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. Marking an evolution in relation to the original paradigm of peacebuilding, the concept of sustaining peace can contribute to enhancing our capacity to address what the Secretary-General identified as one of the most serious shortcomings of the international community: its inability to prevent crisis, he said, calling for stronger efforts to prevent the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict. Noting that the financial health of the Peacebuilding Fund was in question, even while demands for assistance had risen to historic levels, he said resources from the United Nations regular budget were vital for the promotion of peacebuilding and sustaining peace.

LISE H.J. GREGOIRE-VAN-HAAREN (Netherlands), associating herself with the European Union, recalled that her country had long participated in the Peacebuilding Commission Organizational Committee and its Burundi configuration and was a top donor to the Peacebuilding Fund. Describing the Fund as an important instrument that could function swiftly in high-risk situations, she said United Nations development agencies had a special role to play in promoting peace by implementing joint assessments and planning by humanitarian and development actors; ensuring that financing was sufficiently un-earmarked in order to better address the root causes of conflict at the country level; prioritizing efforts in fragile and conflict-affected countries; and ensuring long-term financing. She voiced support for the Secretary-General's sustaining peace agenda, noting that the Netherlands looked forward to his proposals for bold options to increase funding for peacebuilding, including through assessed contributions.

YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) said one of the key elements of the Peacebuilding Commission report was to expand the country-specific approach to include a thematic one that used focal points. As Japan had been appointed the focal point for institution-building, it would respond to the growth of region-wide and cross-border issues that could not be resolved by individual countries. Securing adequate resources for peacebuilding was crucial and the Fund had proven to be an important tool for that purpose. Noting that Japan had contributed $2.5 million last month, bringing its total contribution to $48.5 million, he urged Member States to consider making voluntary contributions to the Fund.

WU HAITAO (China), noting that the Peacebuilding Commission, the Peacebuilding Fund and the Peacebuilding Support Office had implemented reforms over the past year, stressed that all their work on the ground must be country-owned, country-led and fully respect the United Nations Charter. Those bodies should help to develop targeted peacebuilding programmes in line with national priorities, with a special focus on supporting developing countries in achieving economic and social development and tackling the root causes of conflict. Pointing out that all the countries on the Commission's agenda were in Africa, he called for stepped-up cooperation with the African Union and other regional and subregional actors.

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), noting that the Peacebuilding Commission had evolved with the changing nature of conflict, said its activities had yielded results on the ground. As a major United Nations troop-contributing country, Pakistan had long seen how peacekeepers served as early peacebuilders, helping that principle to evolve. Today, a number of peacekeeping missions were being drawn down as countries graduated to the peacebuilding phase, he said, urging support to those countries in building capacity and extending State authority. Nevertheless, the Commission � which lacked a permanent presence on the ground �must be realistic in its mandate and ensure that all transitions were grounded in country-level realities. Warning that the failure to provide adequate resources at the right time could jeopardize all efforts, he went on emphasize the importance of local ownership, declaring: Lasting peace cannot be imposed from the outside, it can only be built from within.

CRISTINA MARIA CERQUEIRA PUCARINHO (Portugal), associating herself with the European Union, supported the sustaining peace resolutions. As most of the Fund's projects were in Africa, she encouraged it � and the rest of the United Nations � to explore synergies with African initiatives and seek greater partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, enhancing their capabilities in security and early warning. As a new member of the Central African Republic configuration, Portugal was committed to its work and was participating in the Quick Reaction Force in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). As full member of Guinea-Bissau configuration since its inception, Portugal recognized the body's increasing importance as the country faced a political and institutional stalemate. She supported Secretary-General's peace continuum efforts and looked forward to his follow up report on the twin resolutions and how to tackle funding in a more predictable, sustainable way.

MARA�A EMMA MEJA�A VA�LEZ (Colombia) said there were encouraging signs of Member States' commitment to advance the sustaining peace agenda. Peace negotiation in Colombia had succeeded, thanks to efforts by the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), as well as the novel tripartite mechanism among them and the guerrilla movements. The concept of sustaining peace was of great relevance to Colombia, helping it to end 50 years of war. Sustaining peace meant transforming rural areas and generating productive employment. As such, the concept was related to the Sustainable Development Goals. Peacebuilding was not a cost, but an investment, she said, pointing to the gains made through local ownership of peacebuilding efforts. Sufficient resources for peacebuilding were paramount. As Chair of the Friends of Women in Colombia, she said women's participation in peacebuilding, particularly as leaders, was vital.

PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation), expressing his delegation's view that sustaining peace implied both addressing the root causes of conflict and supporting countries' recovery, reconstruction and development efforts, called for an unbiased approach that respected the principles of national sovereignty and ownership. The role of the United Nations and other actors must be to provide support to host countries with their consent, he said, warning that assistance should never be imposed or allowed to morph into interference in the domestic affairs of host States. Noting that the interaction between the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund should be strengthened, with the latter benefitting from the former's broad experience, he pointed to the Fund's 2016 work in Kyrgyzstan as a positive example of such cooperation underpinned by host State consent. Countries should be consulted throughout the process, but, in particular, when peace operations were transitioning or being drawn down, he said.

STEFANIE AMADEO (United States), recalling that the Assembly had recognized the positive role of sustainable development in mitigating the drivers of conflict through its adoption of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review in 2016, said the Peacebuilding Commission had begun to bring that new approach into its work on the ground, as seen in its support to Sierra Leone for its upcoming elections. In response to a request by the Security Council that the Secretary-General develop a plan supporting Liberia's political transition, the Commission had brought together a range of actors to engage in dialogue, setting a precedent for similar work going forward. Concluding, she urged the Peacebuilding Commission to act as the lynchpin that brought all United Nations bodies together in support of sustainable peace, adding that it could open its meetings to an even wider array of stakeholders, including civil society.

SVEN JARGENSON (Estonia), noting that his country had just become a member of the Commission, called for a broader focus by taking a regional approach, addressing cross-cutting issues, strengthening its role as a bridge among the primary United Nations organs, and improving its advisory role to those bodies. The Organization must work in a more integrated, flexible and coordinated manner, both at the country level and at Headquarters. The empowerment of women was also critical and he welcomed the Commission's adoption of a gender strategy last year. Stressing that predictable financing was an essential component of peacebuilding, he said Estonia had contributed to the Fund and called for it to cooperate more with the Commission. As well, he welcomed reinforcing collaboration with the World Bank and the African Union.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) acknowledged the longer-term strategic advice provided by the Peacebuilding Commission to the Security Council on countries in transition, such as Liberia, and noted that such efforts were practical ways to advance the sustaining peace agenda. She also highlighted the initiatives to promote gender equality created by both the Fund and the Commission. Noting that the Fund had surpassed the 15 per cent target for gender-sensitive peacebuilding in 2016, which would help ensure that women's needs were addressed in conflict-affected countries, she said Australia had committed $10 million and urged Member States to make strong financial commitments to meet the Fund's $150 million shortfall.

MAY-ELIN STENER (Norway), noting that her country was pleased to be back in the Commission, said that while the experience of country configurations was important, as illustrated by the Commission's comparative advantage in Liberia, the Commission should also increase its flexibility in terms of country situations. Turning to the proposed focal points for certain central issues in the sustaining peace agenda, she said Norway, along with Indonesia, had been trusted with the role of financing for peacebuilding. With a strong record of delivering its relative narrow objectives, the Fund should be recognized as addressing a market failure in finance for peacebuilding, with a flexible, risk-taking approach. She commended the Fund as the first United Nations agency to have surpassed the aim of 15 per cent support to women's empowerment.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) was encouraged by the priority the Secretary-General had given to sustaining peace. The centrality of national ownership and leadership in peacebuilding and sustaining peace must be valued and preserved in real terms. He lauded the recent, proactive initiatives by Kyrgyzstan and Gambia to have their national peacebuilding priorities and initiatives deliberated in the Commission, adding that he was also encouraged by ongoing efforts to break down silos in the United Nations. The Commission, through its convening and advisory roles, should consolidate those efforts. He also welcomed the growing interaction among the Commission and relevant and subregional organizations, especially in Africa, and its growing focus on regional, cross-cutting issues. Regarding its role in institution-building, he stressed the importance of building on its constructive deliberations on the Sahel and Lake Chad regions.

Noting that Bangladesh and Canada were focal points for implementing the Commission's gender strategy, he said that the strategy had the potential to enhance the women, peace and security agenda in practical terms. He expressed hope that the emphasis on increased, predictable and sustainable financing in the twin resolutions would help garner sufficient political support towards mobilizing resources for the Fund and peacebuilding overall. The resource gap in the Fund must be addressed. He looked forward to pragmatic, creative ideas from the Secretary-General to mobilize finances for peacebuilding and sustaining peace in both assessed and voluntary contributions. Bangladesh supported the One Peacebuilding Commission concept and the review of the Commission's working methods to achieve that aim.

Mr. WHEELER (United Kingdom) said the Commission should frequently ask how all United Nations actors were addressing conflict drivers, especially in countries on its agenda. On 19 April, at the request of the Gambia, several actors had briefed the Commission on that country and he expressed hope for more such briefings. The Commission should collaborate with regional organizations, international financial institutions and civil society on how they could each play to their comparative advantages. He was impressed with how talks on the Sahel and on bringing stakeholders around a peacebuilding plan in Liberia were advancing, he said, but the Commission must become more flexible. The United Kingdom was a strong supporter of the Fund and would continue to provide it with resources, he said, welcoming that the Fund had exceeded its commitment to earmark 15 per cent of resources for women's empowerment. Its activities in Yemen had highlighted its important role in crisis situations, while those in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and elsewhere where it had been given a small amount of money, the Fund showed it could use that to leverage funds from larger donors, and demonstrate its role as an enabler, rather than financer, of peacebuilding. When and where conditions were right, external financing could make a difference.

JURGEN SCHULZ (Germany) said the Commission and Fund had vital roles in all phases of conflict, particularly the transition phase, and their work must be institutionalized. To complement its support for the Commission, Germany was promoting stabilization in fragile States, he said, citing efforts to enhance civil stabilization measures in Mali, in addition to its military and police engagement in that country. It also had contributed Euros 5 million to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and increased to Euros 9.1 million its support to the Ministry of Reconciliation and its High Representative. Beyond bilateral engagement, Germany had made significant contributions to the Fund, having provided $22 million in 2016.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) called for concerted efforts by the United Nations in collaboration with Governments and other partners to promote peacebuilding and the sustaining peace agendas. New information and communications technology and social media should be used to cultivate support. He supported the recommendation by the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations requiring the Secretary-General to develop options for restructuring the Secretariat's peace and security architecture as a way to strengthen leadership and remove a silo mind set. Indonesia welcomed the One Peacebuilding Commission concept to ensure more flexibility and mobilization in fulfilling its mandate. Indonesia would continue to contribute to the Fund. At the same time, domestic and international investments and trade, as well as other innovative sources of financing, were needed, with the aim of making financing for peacebuilding self-reliant. Indonesia and Norway, as co-focal points of financing for peacebuilding, were committed to helping the Commission incorporate financing as a key focus area.

GORGUI CISS (Senegal), welcoming that the Commission had taken the new vision of peacebuilding to heart, recalled that an October 2016 visit by its members to Africa had led to more fruitful cooperation with regional and subregional actors. Noting that the African Union had demonstrated its ability to head off crises at an early stage and was playing an increasingly large role in peacebuilding, he said peacebuilding countries were generally fragile with weak economies and high unemployment. Those challenges required enormous support, including in the holding of elections, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, institutional reform, restarting economic activities and generating employment. Those activities also required significant financing over the long term. He expressed concern that funding for sustaining peace remained limited and unpredictable and hoped that the issue would receive the attention it deserved.

TIM MAWE (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union, said 2016 cooperation between the Fund and the World Bank in the Central African Republic and Yemen had demonstrated the Fund's potential to work hand-in-hand with external partners. He welcomed that the Fund had exceeded the 15 per cent target for gender-related resource allocation. Encouraging further efforts in that area, including the sharing of lessons learned and an analysis of the gender dimensions of the 23 Peacebuilding Fund final evaluations undertaken in 2016, he said that Ireland, as a member of the Commission's Liberia configuration, had seen the Commission help that Government drive its own planning process.

Ms. SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) said it was time for action to implement the twin resolutions at all levels and for the United Nations system to act decisively across silos. The Commission's meeting on 19 April on the situation in the Gambia illustrated exactly the kind of role it should play in terms of strategic, proactive leadership and she encouraged the Commission to take further steps to diversify its agenda in that regard. As former Commission Chair, Sweden believed there was scope to leverage the Commission's flexibility to convene regional and country-specific discussions on situations beyond its established agenda. This year, Sweden would increase its contribution from 56 million kronor to 70 million kroner. Expressing concern about the lack of funding coming forward, she looked forward to the Secretary-General's report on sustaining peace, particularly any options for predictable financing for the Fund. The forthcoming study by the World Bank and the United Nations would present other important recommendations on the cost of prevention and peacebuilding and the role of development assistance.

CRISTINA CARRIA�N (Uruguay) said that as a new member of the Commission and the Security Council, her country could see the work of both bodies first-hand. Despite progress, more must be done in the areas of sustaining peace and conflict prevention. Uruguay agreed with the recommendations in the review of the peacebuilding architecture. She stressed the importance of the Fund as a flexible, catalytic tool to finance projects that provided structural and institutional assistance to the most vulnerable areas. Nevertheless, she expressed regret that it was financed through voluntary contributions and lacked a predictable budget, which would clearly improve its efficiency and effectiveness.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) noted that the Peacebuilding Fund had become the only office within the Secretariat to have exceeded the United Nations-wide commitment to allocate at least 15 per cent of its resources to women's empowerment. The launching of its first-ever Youth Promotion Initiative, as a response to Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) on Youth, Peace and Security, had also been significant, he added, urging the Fund to further beef-up its activities in those areas. However, he expressed concern that funding remained scarce, inconsistent and unpredictable, while demands on it had reached historic highs. Turning to the critical area of regional and subregional partnerships, he recalled that the Commission had visited the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa to explore ways to further enhance cooperation, emphasizing that such consultations should be regularized.

NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal) noting his country's long involvement in peacekeeping missions abroad and its own peacebuilding process at home, said that experience illustrated that all stakeholders must be engaged, including the most marginalized and weakest sections of the community. On a national platform, Nepal now had an inclusive and rights-based Constitution, with democratic elections being held for the first time in 20 years in May. The partnership of UN peacebuilding architecture throughout Nepal's Peace Process has come a long way, he said, adding that vulnerable groups, including women, children, elderly and differently-abled should be at the core of peacebuilding processes. As well, Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) were being implemented through tailor-made national plans of action and through local efforts to mainstream women. He urged that the Commission and the Fund make use of synergies and complementarities for effective and efficient financing and for a maximum impact on the group. Available resources had to be strategically used.

RUBA�N IGNACIO ZAMORA RIVAS (El Salvador), noting the centrality of peacebuilding to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, said it did not make sense for funding of peacebuilding efforts to be only through voluntary contributions rather than through the United Nations regular budget. Conflicts arose from economic, cultural and racial differences that led to violence. Peacebuilding was closely related to a culture of dialogue and conflict resolution. Without that, peace agreements would have a short lifespan. The Commission should not focus exclusively on a small number of cases and just one region of the world, as its responsibility was universal. It should have the ability to cover a broader universe and deal with the most urgent cases first. Countries that had achieved positive results in peacebuilding should share their best practices.

GAVEN BEGEC (Turkey) pointed out that the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, held in Istanbul in May 2016, had further developed the development, peace, security and human rights framework. Voicing support for the Secretary-General's agenda to develop a broader framework for prevention aimed at bolstering efforts to build sustainable peace, he said that the Fourth Istanbul Conference on Mediation in June would explore untapped potential of mediation in conflict prevention and sustaining peace. Furthermore, his Government was working closely with the United Nations and its specialized agencies to develop and implement comprehensive strategies to address security, development and humanitarian challenges in the field. Turkey had increased its financial support to various United Nations actors over the years and had become an important voluntary contributor to the Organization. At the Summit in Istanbul, it had pledged a new $1 million multi-year financial package to support the Peacebuilding Fund.

Source: United Nations Radio